Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dark Days Challenge week 3 - Asian pork and cabbage

This week's Dark Days meal features some of the last of our CSA produce from Wayward Seed Farm. I shredded Napa cabbage, carrots, and daikon radish together, and cooked them with an improvised sauce made of honey, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ponzu shoyu. For protein I cooked a single pork chop (from our local butcher shop, which has its own farm) in a similar sauce, then sliced it into strips and tossed it with the cabbage. You could easily turn this dish vegetarian by substituting mushrooms for the pork chop.

My partner asked me what sort of "method cooking" I used for this. I put this in the category of "mixing things that play well together." Carrots, daikon radish and Napa cabbage all make sense in an Asian context, and pork is another classic Asian ingredient. I was aiming for a lightly-cooked shredded salad, but ended up cooking it a little too long. It was still delicious, a good way to eat lots of veggies, and I was able to stretch a single pork chop into multiple (three!) servings.

As for the sauce, being able to improvise an Asian sauce is definitely a work in progress! My biggest tip is to balance out the salty flavor of soy with something sweet - I usually use honey, since there is always a big jar of local honey on my counter. And acid is a must, whether it comes from vinegar or citrus juice (either fresh citrus or strange bottled juices like sudachi from the Asian store. )


Anonymous said...

That cabbage dish sounds delicious, and timely since I have a giant cabbage waiting for me in my kitchen. And my CSA tends to like daikon radish, so I think I'll be "stealing" this idea (just taking out the meat). I have apple-cider vinegar and lots of local honey, but no soy sauce. Can you think of a sub?

Anne said...

My favorite soy sauce substitute is Bragg liquid aminos - have you ever tried it? It was an old standby in my vegetarian days, and gives a nice umami flavor. I also love marmite for umami, but most people think it is completely horrid. I think it is a great addition to soup stocks and sauces (and lovely on toast!)

I usually make a quick pickle out of my daikon radish, with salt, rice wine vinegar, and a little sugar. It is not my favorite vegetable, but we got a fair bit from our CSA this year.